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More Proof That Crappy Exit Interviews Do More Harm Than Good...

It's true.  It's better to do nothing on the exit interview front than to do it poorly.  Example below with a hat tip to Deadspin:

"Tweets Sean Locklear, tackle extraordinaire: "Worst exit meeting ever! No coaches,no front office, just physicals and goodbye to teammates! We did just spend 5 mos together, WOW!" Locklear

That was a tweet from an NFL player who was going through the Washington Redskins exit process that's conducted at the end of a season.  Of course, he later pulled the tweet down after it caused a small storm.  But not before we got the window into his soul.

Clinically, the exit process was fine.  Checking to see if anything was wrong or if anything needed to be followed up on - we get it and expect it.  

But underneath, once you say you're going to do an exit interview, the expectations rise, usually with one question that has two parts:

"Where's the presence of someone who cares, but also someone who can make a change if things didn't go well for me while I was here?"

And that my friends, is a big, big burden.  Most people won't tweet out their dissatisfaction, but you can bet they're asking the same question if you handle your exit interviews in a similar fashion.

You've got some exit interview forms and your coordinator is running people through your "Exit Interview" process face to face.  Is that enough?  Or does it actually take your company's "approval rating" down a couple of notches?  Would it be better to follow up a few weeks after the ex-employee has left the company, when expectations are lowered, emotions have calmed, etc.?

Think about it.  Your exiting employees and NFL players have more in common than you might think.

Comments

Frannyo

As soon as I know we're not doing a counter, the person is definitely leaving, etc, I sit down with him/her and his/her manager and go over an exit plan. During that exit plan, I like to let them know that I'll do an exit interview a few weeks from now, and explain why. That way they don't think I'm not going to let them have their say.

During the transition meeting, I work with the exiting employee's manager to make sure each aspect of their short-term knowledge transfer is handled appropriately, make sure the exiting employee's responsibilities are transferred/divided to the right people. I think it can be a bit of a shock to the exiter when he/she sees that life will go on, that his/her work will get done, and that an exit doesn't have to cause drama.

And when I call them a few weeks later, to do the exit interview, I typically get more reasoned responses than I would have if I allowed the person whatever Pyrrhic victory he/she dreamed of when fantasizing about quitting. I think grounding their exit in some professionalism and task-oriented planning can go a long way towards how they think/talk about the company in the long run.

L.A. Mass

In fairness, most of the employees (players)will be back in March for OTAs and spending a lot of time and effort toward "exit meetings" with employees that will be back in a few weeks is a little unnecessary. However, based on his performance this year, I'm guessing Locklear won't be back...

Tracy Tran

Did you see Mike Shanahan's press conference? Even more gold. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/football-insider/post/mike-shanahan-leaves-final-meeting-to-troops/2012/01/02/gIQAvxUYWP_blog.html

Dianne

Interesting... As someone who has conducted 100's of exit interviews, I've often felt that conducting the exit interview during the last few days of the staff member's employment wasn't the best way to get at information that might really help to make meaningful changes in an organization whether those changes are perceived as positive or negative.

Following up with employees after a few weeks is a better way to have an open discussion that can more easily be measured and potentially make a real difference.

Potomacker

Other than a few easy hours for HR staff to occupy their time, what exactly are the benefits of an exit interview? What is the point for an exiting employee to say anything of substance? Certainly he has nothing to gain, and can potentially lose in the case of a vindictive or spiteful employer.

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